They say it takes a village to raise a child. That phrase underscores the belief that to create something it takes a group of people working toward a somewhat common goal.
But what happens when a second tribe takes over? Given the nature of the hot rod and custom-car world it happens quite often. It’s not always pretty, either; this is an industry forged on personal expression and people sometimes destroy a perfectly wonderful car by trying to make it their own.
Then there are people like Harvey LeDoux. He found his ’50 Ford club coupe in a field, but not the type you’d expect: this one was the winner’s circle at the Goodguys 2010 Northwest Nationals. The car’s builder, Jim Barquist, won the Best Shoebox title with it.
What brought the shoebox to the field was a journey that began with a basically complete car in Stagecoach, Colorado. Barquist took it back to his Bonney Lake, Washington, home and, with help from his tribe, set about building it in the image of the ’49 he had as a kid—at least in the image of the way he wanted that car to turn out had it not gotten totaled just as he finished prepping it for paint.
The plum-like interior color, Black Rose, came from an ’05 Corvette. A Custom Autosound he
Barquist restored the chassis, updating its front suspension with Fatman Fabrications dropped uprights and steering arms. He affected another 2 inches of drop by replacing the coils with ones from a ’91 Ford Aerostar van. Engine builder Dave Tatom supplied a modified Volvo 140/160-series steering box.
Jim Meyer Racing narrowed a Ford 9-inch axle that replaced the old Spicer unit. The car owes its stance to a pair of ’51 Ford springs, lowering blocks, and altered shackles. Both ends wear Ford drums and gas-charged Cure-Ride dampers.
Mount Vernon’s Dave Tatom based the engine on the coupe’s original block. He bored it 0.040 inch for Ross Racing pistons and, when combined with a 4-1/8-inch-stroke Scat crank it now displaces 262 inches. To increase the engine’s flow potential he reworked the ports, opened the seats to accept 1.6- and 1.5-inch valves, and relieved the transfer slots to the cylinders. The TCE 270 cam increases the engine’s flow capacity but at the cost of compression ratio; however, the smaller chambers in the high-compression Edelbrock heads more than make up for it.
Ron Mann at Mann’s Upholstery Service in Wilbur, WA, trimmed the stock seat in a cloth tha
The Edelbrock manifold is the updated version of the ’50s piece that accommodates the larger-flange AFB-style Edelbrock 500-cfm carburetor. The ignition is nothing but modern; it’s a conventional MSD unit that fits in the Ford 8-series timing cover. It works, too: the 262 churned out 192 hp.
The Borg-Warner T5 five-speed transmission bolted to the engine is similarly late (’83-87 vintage Chevrolet S-10). It fits the block by way of a cast 8-series pickup bell housing and an aftermarket adapter. Barquist used a 10-inch McLeod Racing clutch on the stock flywheel and adapted the factory clutch linkage to suit.
The hood acquired louvers on the same dies that pressed them on the ’49 Ford he had as a kid. He shaved the rear quarter seams and frenched the headlights and taillights with Hagan Street Rod Necessities’ kits. Barquist’s boyhood pal, Bob Wolf, applied the PPG Garnet Mist Poly, the same ’60 Oldsmobile color he bought for the ’49 that got totaled before he could paint it.
It might not look as sexy but a single four-barrel manifold wins the horsepower war: it he
The interior tin wears a slightly different shade: ’05 Corvette Black Rose. Barquist installed the Custom Autosound head unit, 10-disc changer, and speakers—4-inch dual-voice-coil units in the dash and 6x9s in the package tray. He wired the rest of the car with a Painless Performance harness.
Rather than change direction, Harvey ran with it. Only he did it in the image of the shoebox he had when he and his wife married. He swapped the stock-style caps for a set of ’57 Caddy covers. The spotlights he fit may not function but the lakes pipes do. “But the body mods were a lot more challenging,” he says.
He turned the coupe over to Gary Case and Dustin Reichel. They replaced the hallmark bullet grille with a ’54 Pontiac grille bar that they cut and spliced. The duo also replaced the upper grille surround with one from a ’51 and filled the semi-circular hole in the hood to match. Case and Reichel also relocated the hinges to inside the trunk by using ’51 pieces. Finally, they shaved the door handles. Wayne Dickson spotted in the parts of the finish disrupted by the changes and painted the three-rib skirts to match.
With the car freshly redone to suit his taste Harvey took it once again to the 2011 Northwest Nats, and once again it won Best Shoebox. For a car to win the same award back-to-back at the same event two years running is a rarity indeed.
But this is a rare occasion: rather than impose his will on an already bitchin’ car, Harvey LeDoux made it his by building on what was already there. But almost more importantly than that, he stopped right there.